Source: http://www.kansascity.com, June 20, 2013
By: Kevin Collison
Ash Grove Cement has agreed to pay a $2.5 million fine and upgrade pollution controls at its plants in eight states, which should reduce its harmful atmospheric emissions by more than 17,000 tons a year, according to the U.S. Justice Department.
In a consent agreement announced this week, the Overland Park company said it will spend about $30 million in additional pollution controls at its nine Portland cement manufacturing plants, including facilities in Chanute, Kan., about 120 miles southwest of Kansas City, and Louisville, Neb., near Omaha.
In addition, the company has agreed to spend $750,000 to mitigate the effects of past excess emissions from several of its plants, close two older kilns at its Texas plant and spend $750,000 replacing old diesel truck engines at its plants in Kansas, Arkansas and Texas, according to the Justice Department.
“This significant settlement will achieve substantial reductions in air pollution from Ash Grove’s Portland cement manufacturing facilities and benefit the health of communities across the nation,” acting assistant attorney general Robert G. Dreher said in a statement.
Ash Grove officials said that while they believe their facilities comply with Clean Air Act and Environmental Protection Agency requirements, they reached the settlement to avoid continuing costly litigation with the federal government.
“The agreement with the EPA will allow Ash Grove to move forward and provide an environmentally sustainable product that is the foundation of our economy,” chairman and chief executive Charles T. Sunderland said in a statement.
The agreement is expected to take effect next month. The federal government has been joined in the settlement by Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Oregon and Washington, along with the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency in Washington.
Federal officials say the pollution control improvements mandated by the agreement will remove thousands of tons of nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide that have been emitted by the Ash Grove plants. It also is expected to reduce the amount of particulate matter coming from the facilities.
The settlement is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval.